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Rugby venues urged to pay ‘real’ living wage

Campaign group Citizens UK has urged rugby stadia to pay match-day workers the “real” living wage as it releases a report on in-work poverty among workers at sports venues.

According to the report, workers in sports and leisure are twice as likely to be trapped in “working poverty”, with two in five jobs in the sector paid below the “real” living wage (£9 an hour outside London and £10.55 an hour inside London).

Community leaders working with Citizens Cymru Wales went undercover to talk to workers at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium (pictured), home of the Welsh national rugby team. They found that many staff are being paid minimum wage and the investigation found that at least 200 workers are being paid wages lower than the independently calculated real living wage.

Citizens UK noted that jobs at England’s Twickenham Stadium and Scotland’s Murrayfield Stadium are also being advertised as minimum wage roles for upcoming games.

A recent poll by Survation found that seven in 10 people (68 per cent) agreed they wanted top clubs and sporting bodies to prioritise paying the real living wage to all staff and go beyond the government minimum.

Citizens UK claimed that none of Principality Stadium, Twickenham and Murrayfield are living wage employers. The report also found that only four of the 20 Premier League football clubs pay the real living wage.

Labour MP Jo Stevens has urged Principality Stadium to take a lead on the matter. Stevens, whose Cardiff Central constituency covers Principality Stadium, said: “It’s not radical to say that every job in Wales should pay enough to live on. Welsh rugby upholds the highest standards on and off the pitch and on the eve of the Six Nations, the Principality Stadium has the chance to make a massive difference to the lives of the people who work hard in the stadium to make the tournament a success by stepping up and paying the real living wage.”

The Welsh Rugby Union has defended its policy. A spokesman told the Daily Mirror newspaper: “All permanent WRU Group, and therefore Principality Stadium, staff are paid, at least, the real living wage. This includes match-day stewards and security staff and employees in our hospitality areas.

“The WRU is a not-for-profit organisation with all proceeds earned by Welsh international rugby and the Principality Stadium event business fed directly back into the game, both at grassroots and professional levels.

“Due to the sporadic nature of the Principality Stadium events calendar – we host between five and seven Welsh rugby internationals a season and all other major events … are put on by third-party event owners at their discretion – we do employ some contracted workers at infrequent, peak times.

“We do not seek to dictate to these contractors, who provide some cleaning and catering staff, the terms upon which they must employ their own staff and do not feel in a position to do so.”

A spokesman for England’s Rugby Football Union also told the Mirror that it pays above the national living wage/minimum wage rates at Twickenham. A Scottish Rugby spokesman added that the organisation’s directly-employed staff are paid above the minimum wage, with its position around the real living wage under continuous review.

Matthew Bolton, executive director of Citizens UK, added: “Ending the injustice of poverty means giving workers a wage based on the real cost of living. People shouldn’t have to hold down two or three jobs to stay afloat. Sports stadiums have a key role in the local economy and can bring hundreds, or thousands, of people out of poverty by going real living wage.”

Image: David Roberts